Familiar faces at Dunn Brothers Coffee in Arden Hills

When a Bethel family opened a Dunn Brothers near campus, they had much more than coffee in mind. The comfy space quickly became a perfect training ground for interns from Bethel’s BUILD program.

By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, GS’16, new media strategist

March 21, 2019 | Noon

BUILD students David Kaetterhenry and Kirsta Graf at their internship at Dunn Brothers Coffee

David Kaetterhenry BUILD’19 and Kirsta Graf BUILD ’19 at their internship at Dunn Brothers Coffee (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

“I love coffee,” says Kirsta Graf BUILD’19, emphatically, at the start of our interview.

She raises her “shift drink”—a peppermint mocha, no whip—that she brought home after a morning at Dunn Brothers Coffee down the road from campus. Today, like every Tuesday and Thursday, she spent a few hours there as the official “welcome associate.”

In her second year in Bethel’s BUILD program, she’s required to complete internship hours designed to put classroom learning into practice, build her confidence, and give her a taste of life after Bethel. And Dunn Brothers Coffee in Arden Hills—which was opened in June 2018 by Greta ’12 and Adam Dvorak ’13, resident director of Bodien Hall—is a perfect place for it. The shop has become a go-to local spot for Bethel students, staff, and faculty, but the Dvoraks also have a secondary mission: “to invest in the joy of people,” Greta says. She describes the faith legacy in their family and how coffee, and the community and conversation that come with it, was a logical choice. “Working with men and women with disabilities just fits within that vision.”

Before Dunn Brothers even opened, Graf—who’s from Arden Hills—reached out about a job. Greta created a job description and laid out an interview process for her. The role would include keeping the shop tidy, saying “hi” to guests, clearing away dishes, and reading to children during a weekly story hour. Graf was an easy hire and excelled in her role over the summer. She returned as an official intern through the BUILD program in fall, joined by David Kaetterhenry BUILD’19 as a food prep cook.

“BUILD students bring a unique energy, a certain perspective on the world that we otherwise would not have,” Greta says. “When Kirsta comes in, she is always kind and smiling and ready to contribute. She really loves to work here, and takes a lot of pride and ownership in it. And David has a goofiness that only he can bring! He loves to make jokes and startle his coworkers.”

student in BUILD David Kaetterhenry

David Kaetterhenry BUILD’19 cheesin' it up for the camera during his internship at Dunn Brothers Coffee

The interns work with job mentors, other Bethel students who are paid by the BUILD program to provide an extra layer of oversight and support. Together, they work six to eight hours per week. Graf and Kaetterhenry have counterparts across the Twin Cities metro, working in retail and floral design, as a Children’s Museum “playologist,” as an usher at Target Center, and as a kennel assistant. One student aspires to be a Child Life Assistant, working in the intentionally-designed “Child Life Zone” play area at Minnesota Children’s Hospital, and has landed an internship there before returning to school for an additional, related degree after Bethel. The students offer a variety of skills and services, but their impact is similar across the board.

“It’s risky,” Greta admits. “But it’s risk in the name of experiencing God’s kingdom. I want this neighborhood, this community, this state to know Jesus. And that He loves us so much that He would save us.”

During the first semester of the BUILD program, students complete an internship lab and begin to dream about what off-campus employment might look like. Their second semester, they complete an on-campus internship. And by their second year, most are employed off-campus, completing 90 hours of work experience per semester.

“For many, an internship is the highlight of their week,” says Ryan Anderson, internship supervisor and instructor for the program’s Jobs and Employment and Internship Lab classes. Because of his dual role, he’s aware of the difference in effectiveness between classroom and hands-on learning for many students in the program. “There’s something about being out in the community and feeling like you’re contributing … it provides dignity and self-confidence.”

As he matches students with positions, he tries to think long-term, seeing internships as not just a program requirement but a gateway to fulfillment long beyond Bethel. “We try to think outside the box with the types of jobs our students are capable of doing,” he says. “Our students are told all the time what they can’t do. Especially with a job mentor in place, students are quite capable of a number of jobs we might not think they’re capable of at first.”

When Graf talks about her job at Dunn Brothers, she describes a score sheet her work mentor Ben Hernes ’22 created for her. On it, she earns check marks for the essential tasks she needs to finish during her shift. She earns a star—and sometimes other fun treats—for doing those things independently. But she’s quick to move beyond tasks to describe the way she feels about her time at work.

“I feel really loved,” she says. “God created me to be a loving person to other people. I get really excited that I get to work at a coffee shop and help people feel welcome.”

student in BUILD Kirsta Graf works at a local coffee shop

Kirsta Graf BUILD ‘19, and her job mentor Ben Hernes ’22, during a shift at Dunn Brothers Coffee in Arden Hills (Photo credit: AJ Barrett '21)

BUILD Program at Bethel

Bethel’s BUILD program is a two-year residential learning experience for students with intellectual disabilities. According to the organization Think College, there are currently 256 programs like BUILD in the United States, but only seven—including BUILD—identify as Christian or faith-based. If you would like to become a BUILD internship partner, providing a position for a student, contact Ryan Anderson at ryan-anderson@bethel.edu. BUILD financial supporters and other volunteers are always needed, and applications are being accepted now for future classes of BUILD students.

Learn more